WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Feb. 9, 2021 — There might be snow on the Hilltop, but West Liberty University held its Spring Semester Convocation at noon last Wednesday in a virtual presentation taped for campus via Topper Station.
The annual event provides updates from the president and his cabinet and includes the presentation of faculty awards and employee years of service honors.
President Dr. W. Franklin Evans began the meeting with brief comments that shared his vision of success and encouraged everyone to believe that “any and all things are possible.”
Evans, who began his role as president just a few weeks ago, stressed the need to continue the qualities that make West Liberty University unique as the university serves students and focuses on student success.
Vice President of Enrollment Scott Cook then shared his outlook and reported an overall increase in enrollment of three percent over last spring, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are up in graduate students, transfers and early entrance enrollment. But retention of students is critical. We must continue to focus on our students. Each employee can help in this and make sure our students find campus a special place, even during the pandemic,” he said.
Following Cook, Vice President of Finance and Administration Roberta Linger reported on another successful audit and shared other accounting news with employees. She thanked all employees for their conservative spending and diligence in budget matters.
President Evans then thanked the faculty and staff for their work and singled out three faculty members for excellence this semester, presenting them with both a monetary award and plaque. These honorees were nominated by deans, faculty or administration and then selected via committee, with final approval by the president.
Faculty Excellence Awards were presented to:
- Dr. Deanna Schmitt, Professional Activity Award
- Dr. Vishakha Maskey, Service Award
- Dr. William “Scott” Hanna, Teaching Award
Schmitt is an assistant professor of biology and has taught at WLU since January 2017. She earned her bachelor of science in microbiology a Pennsylvania State University in 2005, her doctoral degree in immunology at the University of Pittsburgh in 2012 and has completed postdoctoral work at WLU from 2012 – 2016.
A resident of Canonsburg, Pa., her current research is on the “Mechanism of Action of Resazomycins, A New Family of Antibiotics” and she maintains an active research lab for students that gives WLU students hands-on research experience throughout the year.
Maskey is a professor of management and economics and joined WLU in August 2008. She earned a Postdoctoral Bridge to Business Certificate, Management and Marketing at Tulane University, her doctoral degree in Natural Resource Economics at West Virginia University and a master’s in ecology and environment sciences from the University of Maine. A native of Nepal, she earned her bachelor’s degree there and now resides in Wheeling.
Her service award was based on a number of efforts that she initiated within the university, community, and obtaining grants. Her work was responsible for the major contribution this past year of the new major of Energy Management, a 2+2 academic development with Belmont College. She serves on the WLU Sustainability Council and other committees and serves on community boards including Wheeling’s YWCA and West Virginia Export Council.
A resident of Wheeling, Hanna is an associate professor of English and joined WLU in Fall 2008. He earned his doctoral degree in 2012 from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, his master’s in English from Marshall University and his bachelor’s degree from West Liberty State College.
His areas of interest include American Literature, Appalachian Literature, Native American Literature, and poetry. His teaching duties at West Liberty include American Literature, creative writing, composition, and Appalachian Literature. His poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Cleaver Magazine, Still: The Journal, and others. He serves as the chair of the Hughes Lecture Series.
Chief Human Resources Officer Diana Harto then introduced new Staff members hired since August 2019. They include:
- Rodney Anderson, Landscaper
- William Carney, Student Support Services Coordinator
- Joseph Gilbert, Trades Specialist
- Christina Hardman, Athletics Operations Specialist
- James Harris III, Trades Specialist
- Cory Maynard, Landscaper
- Yodev Ocasio, Residence Life Area Coordinator
- Riley Schenk, Head Volleyball Coach
- Robert “Wes” Talkington, Campus Police Officer
- Matthew Tesla, Custodial Supervisor
- Melissa Thornton, Learning & Student Development Center Administrative Assistant
- Mason Werner, Graduate Program Coordinator
- Emily Young, Research Assistant
Promotions mentioned by Harto include:
- Ron Fox, Chief of Police and Director of Safety
- Logan Fullerton, Trades Specialist
- Rhonda McCullough, Clinic Administrative Assistant
Years of Service Awards from the State of West Virginia (as of June 30, 2020) were then presented.
30 Years of Service
- Dr. Sylvia Hawranick Senften, Program Director/Professor of Social Work
- Allen Ramsey, Elbin Library Tech Assistant
25 Years of Service
- Stacy Page, Administrative Assistant College of Sciences
- Herb Minch, Head Softball Coach
The convocation ended with a Staff Council update from Tasha Taylor, who serves as Student Records Assistant Enrollment Services. She was followed by comments from the Executive Director of Alumni Relations and Special Projects Ron Witt who updated employees on the activities of the Employee Engagement Committee.
This was followed by a concluding comment from Faculty Senate chairman Dr. Jon Serra, associate professor of Chemistry.